World Sports

Gunners in Dire Straits

Gunners are a club in financial doldrums and it is no longer funny! As it is, bringing in new players into the team this January transfer window has so become a nightmare that now they are going cap in hand to the Lobatse community in their efforts to raise funds for buying some strikers.

Over the years, several residents of Lobatse and other sympathisers around the country have blocked efforts to privatise the club, claiming the club belonged to the community and could not be so easily given away to mercenaries. It is for this reason and more, that unlike their peers in what has been called the big four of Botswana football, the club continues to wallow in poverty as they receive no financial support from any investor. It is not surprising that Township Rollers, Gaborone United and Mochudi Centre Chiefs – who are all privatized entities – are serious contenders for the league title because of the fat purses that afford them to buy any player they want; while Gunners are fighting for their premiership status at the bottom of the league log. Ludo Kemoeng, who leads the town’s supporters’ branch of the club, is now mincing no words in calling for the people of especially Lobatse and surrounding areas to prove their worth and show that indeed the club belongs to them.

“The Executive Committee of the club is doing everything they can to help resource the team, what are we doing as supporters? We don’t even attend games to help raise funds for the club but we keep saying Gunners is a community team,” an evidently concerned Kemoeng told Sun Sports this week. Given the pathetic numbers in attendance when Gunners beat Wonder Sporting 1-0 at the Lobatse Sports Complex on Saturday, it was evident that the club would not raise any significant funds from their home ground gate takings, a thing that has left Kemoeng and his Lobatse Branch Supporters Club executive committee disheartened.

“They don’t have to see the team perform well before coming to the stadium, they have to come in order to make the team perform. People have to also understand that the landscape has changed. We play teams that have money and they will obviously outdo us on several fronts.

As loyal supporters, they then have to come so as to help the team to higher positions that bring more financial gains, as well as to help fund the club through gate takings,” Kemoeng added.

He says they have now embarked on a fundraising campaign that entails setting up what they term a ‘Transfer Window Emergency Fund.’ This, he says, is meant to solicit funds from the community, with the hope that before the window closure on January 31, they would have raised the P100 000 they badly need to buy quality strikers and save the club from the hovering relegation axe. The house to house and office to office campaign that began this Monday and will end next week on Thursday will see the solicitors begging for as little as P10-00 per person from a targeted reach  of 10 000 residents. “We will also set up collection points at different places across town including filling stations, shopping complexes, the bus rank and at the club’s practice ground. If we don’t manage to buy strikers, we wont survive relegation, and it is the community of Lobatse that stands to lose ,” he said.

Perhaps in demonstrating that indeed the club’s need is more in the striking department, the introduction of Pako Modikwa on Saturday paid dividends for the club when he scored the only goal of their match against Wonder. Modikwa, who is on loan from BDF XI, was playing his first game for Gunners and although he was replaced in the 75th minute of the game by Justice Dongwana, he had shown glimpses of what Gunners can achieve with a potent strike force. The club’s chairman, Kitso Dlamini, said they were hoping to also add a Zambian striker from Konkola Blades to their attacking force this week. “We await completion of all paper work before we can start using him, hopefully for our next game,” Dlamini revealed.